Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mango Cashew Ginger Chews

This recipe was originally developed back in 2008 and has since become my favorite holiday tradition. I look forward to them every year. I already had a wonderful recipe for gingerbread men, but this became something much more special. These cookies make great gifts whether you’re delivering a dozen next door or mailing them across the country; they keep for about a week, they’re soft (therefore less breakable) and contain no chocolate (no melting). They also freeze extremely well in Ziploc freezer bags.
I love the combination of sweet and spicy, salty with a little tang. I used to buy a trek mix, with ginger, mango, cashews and almonds, which was discontinued a few months before I first made this cookie. I was craving the flavors of that trek mix; though, I really wanted something chewier. I decided to make a molasses-rich cookie with nice big chunks I could take my time to enjoy. I hope you enjoy my Mango Cashew Ginger Chews as much as I do.

2 cups all-purpose white flour
½ cup almond meal
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp powdered ginger
¼ tsp white pepper
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
¼ cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup crystallized candied ginger chunks
1 cup dried mango
1 cup cashew halves and pieces
1 jar of gold sugar sprinkles (optional)

1.     Butter should be left out for 15 minutes before baking; or pop it into the microwave for 5 seconds.
2.     Cube the semi-soft butter. Using a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar and white sugar.  Place in the refrigerator.
3.     Sift together the: flour, almond meal, cinnamon, ginger powder, pepper, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
4.     Chop the dried mango and ginger chunks into chocolate-chip-sized pieces. *Chop the cashews as well if purchased whole. Set aside.
5.     Return the butter/sugar mixture to the standing mixer. Add the egg, molasses and vanilla. Scrap the sides down as necessary.
6.     Add the dry ingredients to the wet little by little with the mixer on until just combined.
7.     Add the chopped mango, ginger, and cashews. Return the dough to the fridge for at least 20 minutes. The colder the dough keeps the better. Return unused dough to the fridge between batches if using multiple cookie sheets.
8.     Preheat oven to 350°.
9.     Using a small ice cream scoop, make roughly uniform 1” balls of dough and place on an ungreased cookie sheet 1-2 inches apart. Press the cookie ball gently with the palm of your hand. Cover the top of each dough ball with a generous amount of gold sprinkles.
10. Bake for 10 minutes.
11. Makes 3 dozen cookies.



A couple notes on the ingredients… 

For the mango you want to buy the still soft and slightly moist dried mango. Some dried pieces are too tough to bite into once they are in the cookie. I recommend Soft and Juicy dried mango from Trader Joe’s. Besides being the right texture, one 6 oz bag is exactly one-cup once cut to size, the other benefit is that one package is only $1.69.

For the crystallized ginger you can easily spend a small fortune. DO NOT buy the crystallized ginger from the spice section of your grocery store, you will easily end up spending over 20 dollars for the 4 ounces you need. Go to the dried fruit section of your grocery store. You might also find dried ginger slices or chunks in the bulk bins or health food aisle. I recommend Naturally Preferred Crystallized ginger a 6-ounce bag is $2.99 at Fred Meyer. Trader Joe’s also sells a 6-ounce uncrystallized candied ginger chunk for $2.99, which works equally well.
Lastly, the gold sprinkles are totally optional. You could go without, or roll the dough in any crystal-sugar sprinkles you desire, or even raw (or turbinado) sugar crystals will give you a similar effect without the cost. I found gold sprinkles at Home Goods, which has become one of my favorite stores for obscure kitchen do-dads.

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